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Posts Tagged ‘Atlas 2013’


I continue to be amazed by the backward thinking that some folks have, saying “If the ranchers had really cared about their animals, they would have had shelters every 20 acres and those animals wouldn’t have died.”

Aside from clearly not knowing anything about actual ranching, cattle, or the ranchers that have them, it’s patently false to think that having shelter was the key to saving them.

It’s not.

Let me say that again.

Having shelter would not have saved them. Not necessarily. Not guaranteed..

I read one account where 63 cattle had taken shelter and were found dead because they had gotten buried by snow and suffocated or froze to death. I read other accounts where ranchers were digging out cattle that had used bales of hay as a wind break; some of them survived, some did not.

If someone doesn’t think snow can suffocate and cause death, then I’d say that person didn’t live in a location where there was real snow. You try breathing in near hurricane force winds that are blowing sticky snow onto your partially frozen body, all the while burying you under snow drifts of 7 or 8 feet high. Ya. Try that and get back to me.

In addition, with that kind of snow load, a more likely scenario would have been the shelters collapsing under the weight of the snow and trapping and killing the cattle inside who were too buried in snow to escape.

I’ve seen pictures of cabin doors that were blown in and the cabin filled with snow. Now imagine if you didn’t have a coat and were already wet and it was blowing a sustained 60 mph.

Using a quote from an article on Beef Magazine.com, “She said, “Discouraging day. Cows are smart and know the draws to hunker down in, in just about any direction the storm comes from. But when the storm fills your hiding place, you must leave or get buried. Many cows did not leave and did not survive. The cows that left got stuck in drifts and had the same fate.”” 

Did y’all get that?

The storm blew snow drifts INTO the shelters. INTO THE SHELTERS.

Had this storm blown in during the actual winter, animals might have fared better. With this kind of driving snow, the ones not suffocating might not have succumbed to hypothermia because their winter coats would have given them some measure of protection.

And still, they might have suffocated under the snow anyhow.

They would have also been in their higher winter grounds. I’ve read about some herds that had already been moved to the winter grazing grounds who didn’t fare much better.

But this storm at this time?

No. The death toll was not because of ranchers not caring.

I’ve read accounts of folks going out to dig out cattle to get their ear tags for identification.diggingoutcattle Some found cattle that were buried and barely alive. So they kept digging, trying to get sunlight on hide to help warm them up.

I have yet to see anything on mainstream news.

Fortunately, people are getting the word out as they can.

In addition to the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund, there are now several outlets on Facebook helping connect folks to relief measures.

Here’s a list of the ones I have. If you know of others, please link to them by leaving a comment. If I get enough, I’ll update either on this post or on a new one.

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association- has helpline info

South Dakota Cattle Locator– not just for cattle, as I’ve seen folks posting information on found horses

Pennington County digs free mass burial pits for cattle killed in blizzard- free carcass burial information

Rancher’s Reflief Fund– Facebook page

Atlas Blizzard Ranch Relief and Aid– good collection of resources and info

5 Resources For South Dakota Ranchers Hit By October Blizzard– this article has resources and links to other articles on the blizzard

Other links to stories written by other people with first-hand experience of this storm:

Photos: Heather Hamilton-Maude

Rancher Details “Gut-Wrenching” Pain From Cattle Lost In SD Blizzard- Heather’s Story

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Are you?

Granted, I haven’t been watching the news like I generally do, so maybe I’m just missing it.

I know there are lots of things going on. The government shutdown. The Kardashians. Miley’s twerking. Miley’s naked ball romp. Etc etc etc.

But seriously- this one has my head and heart spinning, and I cannot understand why there is no coverage on this. As of today, I’m finding sporadic coverage, and mostly only the ag sites are really talking about the real losses. Today, I’m seeing a few other sites starting to report on this, but where is the media when you really need them?

“The situation right now in western South Dakota is dire,” Christen said. “We have ranchers who have nothing left, literally nothing left.”

The snow storm Atlas has resulted in the loss of 20-50% of some herds in South Dakota. I’ve seen a write-up from a lady who lost 10 of her 13 horses.

I’ve seen comments on some of those sites by people saying the loss of cattle was due to humans being irresponsible. And that just makes my blood boil.

REALLY?! So, you think that tens of thousands head of cattle lost were because ranchers don’t care about those animals?

That tells me that the folks making those comments are flat ignorant.

Calves going to market {which would have happened soon} bring in about $1,000 a head. Grown cattle bring on average about $1,500. We’re talking about HUGE numbers of cattle. We’re talking about people’s livelihoods-  not just money lost from selling this year, but breeding stock which is an investment for the future.

And to say that the ranchers don’t care about their cattle is as stupid as it gets. They don’t get paid if they don’t care. You can’t survive if your means of income is dead.

Ranchers will haul out water over thousands of acres during dry years. Ranchers will pay to have hay dropped during storms when they cattle get stranded. If ranchers can prevent harm from coming to their cattle, they will do whatever they can.

So what was so bad about this storm that caused all these animals to die? I mean, surely, South Dakota is no stranger to winter storms, right?

Um, you know this is still early October, yes?

While parts of Canada see winter year round, 😉 South Dakota wasn’t quite ready for a storm of this magnitude.

To begin with, this one snuck in under the radar. There were no warnings that this would be as bad as it was.

First came the rain- 12 hours of soaking rain.

Then came the snow. 4 feet of snow in 48 hours. That’s an inch of snow every hour, for 2 days.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, the wind was blowing, too. Winds  were clocked at 60 mph, with 70 mph gusts. Y’all, that’s nearly hurricane force winds.

If you’ve not experienced a lot of snow, let me tell you why that’s a problem. Snowfall is bad enough, but when it blows, you’ve got drifts of snow. Many of those drifts were measured to be 7 to 8 feet high.

This is how houses get buried.

This is how animals get buried.

If you’re still wondering why so many animals died from this storm and yet manage to stay alive during the winter, let me fill in the blanks.

Grazing lands are rotated. Winter grazing lands are usually closer to other structures, like houses. They are often on higher ground, too, which makes getting to them easier. These animals hadn’t been moved to the winter grazing lands yet because it’s October.

The other key element of this is timing. Another two months, and the cattle and horses would have been equipped to handle this storm. Soaking rain causes more problems than just snow because it lowers body temperature more rapidly.

The bigger factor, though, was that because this came in early October, the animals had not yet grown their winter coats.

If you have a dog, you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Horses and cattle are no different. They grow winter coats just the same and shed out come spring. They didn’t have their longer winter hair. You try standing out in freezing rain and then snow without a coat and see how long you last.

And yet, somehow, these ranchers, who’ve now lost their livelihoods for years to come, are somehow responsible for a freak storm courtesy of mother nature???  😡

Adding insult to injury, this storm couldn’t have come at a worse time, what with the government being shut down and all. There aren’t even any relief agencies available to help out right now.

Thousands of people are still without power, although they’re working on it.

So while most folks are  busy watching the news and talking about fluff and the government, life and devastation are happening for people who need help and aren’t getting any because news outlets are too wrapped up in junk to report actual news.

I’m pasting in some pictures below. Be forewarned that they are graphic and heartbreaking. I’ll put them in after the other links for more information on this devastating storm.

Rancher Relief Fund

South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association, South Dakota Stockgrowers Association and South Dakota Sheep Growers Association have established a fund with the Black Hills Area Community Foundation to assist livestock producers devastated by the blizzard of Oct. 4-7.

To donate visit. http://www.giveblackhills.org and search “Rancher Relief Fund.” Checks can also be mailed to Black Hills Area Community Foundation/SD Rancher Relief Fund, at P.O. Box 231, Rapid City, SD 57709

Northern Ag Network: graphic pics and updated information

Rapid City Journal: Governor tours ranches devastated by blizzard

The Weather Channel: South Dakota Ranchers Seek Help for Cattle Lost to Winter Storm Atlas

“The situation right now in western South Dakota is dire,” Christen said. “We have ranchers who have nothing left, literally nothing left.”

The Blizzard that Never Was

WeatherUnderground: Winter storm Atlas

NBC News: Shutdown worsens historic blizzard that killed tens of thousands of South Dakota cattle

AgFax: South Dakota Storm Kills 10s of 1,000s of Cattle

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South Dakota Storm Kills 10s of 1000s of Cattle
South Dakota Storm Kills 10s of 1000s of Cattle
South Dakota Storm Kills 10s of 1000s of Cattle

I am from Wall, South Dakota and we had a horrible blizzard here October 4, that killed thousands and thousands of cattle and horses. There has not been any national coverage or help. Our state needs help in finding our animals. We are all in heartache as this is how we make a living, and is also how everyone else in the United States eats. Our own President hasn’t even acknowledged the natural disaster we are in. This picture is of some horses my family lost in the storm. We lost 10 out 13 horses and are devastated by the loss, which doesn’t even count the thousands of cattle that was lost by some of our neighbors.”

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